The influential curses and blessings of the BasedGod


The NBA playoffs can be unpredictable. You can build a model that will calculate the odds of every possible scenario, but sometimes the math lets you down. Forget to include just one important variable and your whole algorithm is shot. I’ve found, for example, if you want to generate accurate playoff win probabilities [pushes glasses up his nose] you need to account for the “LeBron Effect” — by giving any LeBron-led team a bump in championship odds. But there’s another game changer that can swing a series even more dramatically than the NBA’s best player — his name is Lil B.

Now, if you’re a stodgy old coot like me, you may be wondering “who, in the actual f— is Lil B”. But, if you’re (very famous rapper) Kendrick Lamar, (pro basketballer) JaVale McGee, or (irreverent “Workaholic”) Blake Anderson — you already know.

Lil B is an enigmatic and subversive Bay Area MC. He’s been billed as a “rapper-slash-rap deconstructionist” – one who pulls apart the fabric of hip hop only to stitch the pieces back together in his own perverse musical patchwork of 100-track mixtapes and lo-fi YouTube videos. His songs can be hard to like, but they’re interesting, innovative, and influential.

Even if you never heard his oddball music, though, you would still probably recognize his role on the periphery of the NBA – he’s the guy who once put a hex on Kevin Durant.

The Curses

I suppose it might be more precise to say that it was the BasedGod who actually put the hex on Durant, but Lil B is the one who told Twitter about it.

So what exactly is the relationship between Lil B and the BasedGod? Hmm…what’s the least sacreligious way of putting this…the BasedGod is like Lil B’s alter ego — it’s a personna that started as a sort of self-defense mechanism for a young artist who was confronted with a lot of negativity. When critics labeled Lil B as WACK — it was the BasedGod who was the split personality that clapped back.

Now, Lil B plays the role of Jesus — a flesh-and-blood mouthpiece for the divine and omniscient BasedGod. But Lil B is also Ellen Degeneres. So I guess they’re like the Holy Trinity. That’s the MOST sacrilegious way of putting it, I think.

But who really gets cursed though? Well, anybody who hates on Lil B, like Durant did — they’re gonna be #Cursed. People who disrespect Lil B? #Cursed, for sure. Heretics who don’t pay homage to the BasedGod? #Cursed, big time.

And for KD, the penalty for insufficient homage payment was pretty severe. He ended up being cursed for five full seasons — from the summer of 2011 right up until July 4 2016. It was a period of time book-ended by some heavy career disappointments. At the start, there was a disheartening loss to the LeBron-led Heat in Durant’s only trip to the finals with the Thunder. At the end, there was a collapse in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors culminating in a blown 3-1 lead. And in between, there was a season-ending foot injury. So much potential turned into so many near misses.

While KD was #Cursed, the Thunder were in position to win four championships with varying degrees of certainty. In fact, using win probabilities from Jacob Goldstein’s playoff odds model and in-game win probabilities from we can see just how big of an opportunity they missed out on. In all, OKC “should have” won 1.33 titles in their four playoff appearances during the #Cursed era. They didn’t. They lost them all.

The BasedGod has no qualms about taking on the top superstars in the league. Absolutely ZERO qualms. Not only did he single handedly prevent KD and the Thunder from winning a ring — when they seemed so obviously destined for one — he confronted another MVP-caliber star at the same time.

James Harden broke a different kind of commandment from the BasedGod: “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s swag or steal from Lil B”.

Lil B explained that Harden had co-opted the official “Lil B Cooking Dance Sports Celebration” without obtaining the requisite permissions or even acknowledging his true inspiration. The BasedGod demanded recognition and Harden refused — a curse was the only recourse.

Harden, like his former teammate, Durant, toiled for years under the BasedGod’s curse. His Rockets postseason flameouts were less spectacular than Durant’s were with the Thunder, but no less definitive. Total rings won: zero.

The Harden #Curse ended last summer, so the BasedGod isn’t directly responsible for Chris Paul’s hamstring or the Rockets 7-for-44 3-point shooting on Sunday – but he’s not NOT responsible, either.

It’s ironic that these two curses have come to define Lil B for many people, because he spends most of his time and energy as a force of positivity on Twitter, in his writing, and in speaking engagements. Indeed, it seems clear that Lil B would much prefer to impart the #Blessings of the BasedGod and leave his #Curses in the past.

The Blessings

Lil B has been making a conscious effort to facilitate the BasedGod’s blessings this year – spreading around the Good News to dozens of teams from multiple sports.

Lil B is from the West Berkeley Waterfront and he’s ensured that all his local teams have the BasedGod’s support — the Warriors, of course, were the beneficiaries of the Durant/Harden curses in three separate playoff series, but they’ve also received a lot of their own #Blessings. Several other Bay Area sports teams — the Raiders, Sharks, Quakes, Reno FC, Cal Football, even a pair of local high schools — got love from the BasedGod, too.

During the NBA season, Lil B relayed the BasedGod’s #Blessings to literally half the league. Some of the teams were honestly beyond help and could not even be saved by divine intervention, but even the worst among them could still at least take solace in the BasedGod’s lottery blessings. In all, six lottery teams were #Blessed. It worked out great for the Kings and Hawks. The Nuggets, Knicks, and Bulls all got exactly the ping-pong balls they were expecting and the Grizzlies and Mavs were the only #Blessed teams who were (temporarily) disappointed by their draft positions (but the BasedGod works in mysterious ways, so stay tuned).

Lil B also has his fingerprints all over the 2018 NBA postseason. The BasedGod #Blessed seven different playoff teams this year: the Raptors, 76ers, and Celtics in the East and the Timberwolves, Blazers, Pelicans, and Warriors in the West.

For the most part, the BasedGod’s favored teams have been pretty successful in the playoffs, except in the instances when they were forced to play each other.

Boston’s deep postseason run came as a surprise for some – the math was certainly against it – but the Celtics playoff success was preordained. After all, former Cal-Berkeley star, Jaylen Brown, has a close relationship with the BasedGod.

That one hug ensured that the Celtics would be on a short list of the Based God’s chosen people and the holy embrace really paid big dividends for Brown, specifically. His breakout sophomore season was a direct result of the BasedGod’s #Blessing and his subsequent playoff performance was even more impressive — he was a revelation with his 18 points and 5 boards per game. In the end, another minor deity proved even more powerful than the BasedGod; but Brown’s sanctified postseason play was a big reason why the young Celtics got to the brink of the NBA Finals, way ahead of schedule.

Next: Steve Kerr coaches like a role player

Of course, the BasedGod is a homer and he loves the Warriors more than any other team. Lil B even went so far as to audition for a spot on the Santa Cruz Warriors during an open try out in 2012. In fact, his overwhelming love for the Warriors is the only thing that saved Durant from being #Cursed for all eternity. It was only after KD announced he was joining the Warriors on July 4th 2016 that the curse was finally lifted.

The impact that the BasedGod has had on KD and the Warriors can hardly be overstated. He had already paved the way for two championships in three years and Sunday’s Game 7 #Blessings tipped the scales in Golden State’s favor once again. Against all odds, the Warriors are heading back to the NBA Finals. It’s time we all stop doubting the power of the BasedGod and start groveling for his #Blessings.